The Upper House of the 53rd Legislature has hired four economic experts, known as “Independent Economic Review and Advisory Panel” to research the causes of the country’s bad economy and advance solutions.
After the investigation the panel will make recommendations for the Senate’s consideration in order to improve the economy and reduce hardships, Senate Pro Tempore Armah Z. Jallah told journalists in his Capitol Hill office on Friday.
The panel, which comprises professional Liberians, is headed by veteran economist and former Minister of Planning and Finance, Dr. Byron Tarr.
Other panel members are University of Liberia’s Associate Professor of Economics, Edwin K. Tetteh; former President of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), Mr. Francis A. Dennis, Sr., who is currently an executive member of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce; and Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner, Dean of the Louise Arthur Grimes School of Law.
Pro Tempore Jallah said the panel was formed owing to the magnitude of concern raised by Liberian business owners, Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL), regarding tax hikes and the increase in incidental fees imposed on imported food by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).
“More importantly, the petitioners also complained about the failure of a dialogue between them and the LRA to discuss the high tariffs on small Liberian businesses, the sharp and continuous increase of foreign exchange rates; failure of the government to promulgate a special tax regime for small Liberian businesses and alleged harassment by state security actors,” he said.
Upon PATEL’s petition to the Legislature, a three-day strike action took place during which all businesses were shut down in Monrovia.
“Given the magnitude of the concerns raised by the petitioners and the challenges faced by the people, the Senate immediately convened a meeting on the same day to discuss possible and tangible means of handling the situation,” Senator Jallah stated.
He said the Senate is aware that the matter needs to be addressed amicably and professionally to ensure that its resolution positively impacts the economy.
“The Senate notes efforts by the Executive branch of government to respond to these concerns. However, the Senate believes there must be multidimensional considerations to limit the impact of the economic crisis,” he said.
The Gbarpolu County Senator said the Senate is of the opinion that tapping into the expertise of these professionals forming the panel will enable the lawmakers to understand the problems and afford them the opportunity to take reasonable steps to stabilize the nation’s economy.
“We therefore urge members of the Patriotic Entrepreneur of Liberia (PATEL) to exercise maximum restraint as the Senate acts decisively to help solve the problems and save the State. We also urge all citizens, public officials and other professionals to be available to share their thoughts with the panel in their deliberations,” Senator Jallah noted.
Meanwhile, the Senator indicated that there is no timeframe attached to the panel’s work and the compensation for the panel’s members will also be taken into consideration upon negotiation.